by S. Mahmood ... the La Habra resident graduated with honors from the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of California at Berkeley.
Couldn't find this article on the net ... so I have to type this all out.
We humans tend to forget. The right to free speech was pioneered by Muslim societies. "Satanic Verses" - like books of centuries ago were kept alongside sacred texts in the libraries of Baghdad, and their writers were invited to publically debate the merit of their ideas by Islamic scholars. The Middle East practiced debate when Europe was still in the Dark Ages.
What happened to the Islamic world’s Library of Congress and to the tradition of Islamic tolerance? The former burned to the ground during the Iraq War, as American soldiers stood idly by outside; the other has been eroded by centuries of Western hegemony. Let me explain.
Once, not long ago, only the best and brightest Muslim minds were allowed the privilege of becoming Islamic journalists. After the Age of Imperialism, Europe intervened, re-directing the top talent. In many parts of North Africa, for example, France made death the penalty for reading or writing Arabic, the language of the Quran. Even street names were changed. So effective was this effacement of Islamic heritage over the long term that 50 years ago North Africa resorted to importing linguistic and religious scholars.
It should not surprise is, therefore, that in the Muslim world today – whether in the Middle East or Pakistan – if your son fails at medicine, law, engineering and everything else, you make your son a cleric. Ignorance has begotten ignorance, and in a few hundred years the weakest minds in the Islamic world have become heirs to the Prophet himself.
Now, Islamic traditions tell is that Muhammad never retaliated against the non-Muslims who insulted him verbally, much less when they assault him or his loved ones physically. The violence we see happening in the world today, therefore, has nothing to do with prophetic teaching. It has to do, as Malcolm X would say, with the chickens coming home to roost: You reap what you sow.
If we truly desire Muslim societies to operate peacefully with us in the modern world, then we need to help accelerate their stunted social evolution. Of course, this challenge becomes exponentially more difficult if we also wish to handicap them politically to control their natural resources.
What is the message the West is sending to the Muslim world when it says it has no right to be upset about the deeply offensive cartoons – on the basis of free speech – and then Austria jails Holocaust revisionist David Irving? Likewise, how does the Western world explain why Iran has no rights to peaceful nuclear technology – which is, in fact, sanctioned by the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty – while the United States closes its eyes to North Korea? And how can we insist that a government run by Hamas is illegitimate – though peacefully and democratically elected – while Israel’s top officials have long wanted for the genocides of Sabra and Shatila?
We are facing a clash of civilizations, indeed: Remember that Islamic theology has its apocalyptic writings, as well, and in it things get really ugly before the world looks any brighter. Islam predicts that Muslims should expect to die as martyrs, en masse, before the day that al-Mahdi and Jesus Christ will come to redeem them.
Therefore, if even progressive Muslims with modern sensibilities such as those at the Council of American Islamic Relations in Anaheim don’t measure up to our standards, our measuring sticks needs a severe overhaul: Our prevailing definition of “moderate Islam” – that the only good Muslim is a non-practicing – is not just impractical, it may actually cataclysmic.
We can pretend that everything is OK in America’s inner cities and cut our social spending. We can pretend that our current international policies serve the common interest and increase defense spending. But ultimately we need to re-evaluate many of our political postures and, in the meantime, should not cry if the natives get restless from time to time. Dr. Frankenstein never lamented, “Why does he hate me so?”